Thursday 28 May 2020

Album Review: The Howl & The Hum - Human Contact

The Howl & The Hum - Human Contact
01. Love You Like A Gun 02. Human Contact 03. Hall Of Fame 04. Hostages  
05. Murmur 06. The Only Boy Racer Left On The Island 07. Got You On My Side 
08. Until I Found A Rose  09. A Hotel Song  10. Smoke  
11. Sweet Fading Silver  12. 27  13. [Pigs]

Released 29th May 2020 through AWAL

I was first introduced to the The Howl & The Hum, a band named partly after an Allen Ginsberg poem, through their 2017 single Godmanchester Chinese Bridge. From its cathartic dispositions, its namesake based upon an eye catching landmark in a Cambridgeshire town, the York-based four-piece have finally emerged triumphant with their long anticipated debut album 'Human Contact' - something ironically craved in these undying times.

Three year's later, with a string of single's under their belts, the band holed up to record throughout 2019, and are now here to tell tales of heartbreak, longing and regret in the only way they know how - through gritted determination and bittersweet melancholy.

Showing signs from its opening moments that they're far from a one trick pony, the bands long established dynamic readily shines through. So it seems only fitting for the record to kick off with a stark change in direction as pummelling electronic sounds set alight the pulsating Love You Like A Gun. This perfectly sets the tone as their title track's subdued intro quickly dissipates and breaks off in to its charging guitars and driving percussion.

It's not until Hall Of Fame that we get the first glimmer in to frontman Sam Griffiths' soaring vocal ability. A cry of desperation set across a firework display of explosive instrumentation, the track swings in to action through euphoric melodies and flashing poetry. And that's exactly where they excel. The band's songwriting is an art form in itself.

As Hostages tells the story of a broken relationship through the eyes of two lovers, meeting upon a bridge to exchange their belongings, The Only Boy Racer Left On The Island has us floored with a longing nostalgia for our dying youth. "This song was inspired while we were on the Orkney Islands, when we saw one boy racer driving round and round the same roads overtaking our shitty little van, yet there was no-one else he was racing" explains Griffiths on its conception. "I had loneliness on the brain, so this song came together as an anthem of lost youth, while not looking on this young view of masculinity particularly lightly. This is a song about that guy with the monster-like revving engine roaring past you on the high street when you were younger, seeing him as trying to impress the girls, the guys, himself, and what happens to these young men as the years turn over: people leave, the town changes, but they refuse to grow up." 

At its halfway point, Got You On My Side shows the band feeling just as confident in breezy, fluctuating melodies and emotionally charged lyrics as they do in all out pop. But it's not long before they're firing up the pace once more with machine gun percussion and an aspirant driving force on Until I Found A Rose.

There's brilliance in every which way. From the touching mental health notes on Hotel Song to the vulnerabilities in Smoke, The Howl & The Hum's songwriting facilitates a craftsmanship like no other. Elsewhere, there's the harrowing Sweet Fading Silver. Recorded in one take and transcending from personal relatablities, it's a connection we can all make as Griffiths clings on to the fading memories of a past life - Its slow burning crescendo a poignant reminder to the band's emotionally grieving nuances.

As the record bows out with two equally contrasting track's, from 27's kaleidoscopic disco-felt melodies, alongside its tongue-in-cheek romanticised lyrics "you said it's not you, it's me", to [Pigs] displaying their incredible use of spacial intelligence, 'Human Contact' demonstrates the capabilities they behold to side-step any genre specific categories where so many band's pigeonholed and lets them truly break in to their own light.

The Howl & The Hum's 'Human Contact' will be released May 29th 2020 through AWAL.



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